I was in remission so long that I almost forgot about the condition. Almost. But one day, I realized that the edges of my perception were getting cloudy, the sky becoming darker, the atmosphere getting thicker, and my thoughts getting darker. Statistically speaking, I should have seen it coming, but my long period of remission (5 years to be exact) made me forgetful. Bipolar disorder is a lifetime condition that characterized by high rates of relapse, and very low rates of remission with about 90% relapsing at least once in their lifetime.
I was doing so well in my remission that early on I was allowed to stop taking my medication with the promise of continuing counseling and monitoring my symptoms. After some time, I started to forget. Forget that I used to suffer from debilitating depression. My only two manic episodes occurred when I was 19 years old (15 years ago), so mania was never a serious worry for me. But in the middle of July after a bout of extreme irritation, annoyance, frustration, and feeling as though the world was starting to cave in I realized I needed help. After speaking with my counselor, we decided I should make an appointment with psychiatry to talk about medications. As we all know, getting an appointment with psychiatry can be difficult and while my GP offered me anti-depressions I didn’t want to take the risk. People with bipolar disorder no matter now deep into remission they are, can’t take anti-depressants alone without risking a manic episode. So wait I did.
Incoming Mental Breakdown
Two weeks later, I manage to hold it together but I don’t think I could have waited any longer to get in to see psychiatry. The precarious hold, the death grip I had on the door keeping the darkness out was starting to slide, to give way. Intense exercise (running, walking, yoga), the emotional support dog, coupled with a touch of creeping burnout, and finals week was becoming too much to bear. Honestly having a mental breakdown would have been easier at this point, but having to put my life back together afterwards would have been horrifying. So I clung to small hope that perhaps relief would be coming soon.
Now in my defense, I have had a very difficult year.
Gained a boyfriend, lost a boyfriend.
Stepfather died after relapse of cancer
Therapist died a week after my stepfather
Started Premedical classes
Various work transitions
Questions regarding my faith
But I had difficult years before, and hadn’t slipped. So why was I slipping now? The psychiatrist recognized the impending depression and informed me I was in partial remission. We decided that medication would be best at this time, and are hoping that it would help to push me back into full remission. Along with a recommendation of return to the well-crafted routine I had perfected and established.
So I am back to managing and tracking my time. Returning to carefully planned meals, HIIT sessions, running, walking, and playing with my emotional support dog. Having a sleep therapist teaching me to regulate my sleep (I have a circadian rhythm disorder) should help the situation. Here’s me hoping that remission finds me soon. Me trying to convince myself that returning to medication isn’t weak and that I am not giving up. Reminding myself that knowing when to seek help and admit that I need help is a strength that many don’t have. Hoping that I continue to avoid mania, that my depression doesn’t deepen, and the darkness remains at bay.
A woman can dream right?
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